Let me just start this post out by saying that no matter what you do as a parent, whether it be working full time, part time, staying home with your kids, or working six jobs, you’re doing the right thing for you and your family! Personally, I always dreamt of being a stay at home mom. Maybe work a day here or there once the kids got older but all I wanted was to enjoy the babies when they were little.
Unfortunately, real life had to intervene and student loans, a mortgage, car payments, and whatever else you can think of got in the way. I realized my dream to be home full time wasn’t realistic. My husband and I decided that working part time, 3-4 days per week was manageable and my mother-in-law willingly offered to watch our son so we could save on day care costs. I slowly learned how to enjoy being a working mom and am now so happy to be.
I was able to take off just shy of three months for maternity leave from work. The weeks leading up to my first day back to work were filled with worry, sleepless nights (stress + an infant!), fear, and a little bit of excitement which surprised me.
What you don’t realize as a first time mom is that maternity leave is kind of well, boring. Especially in the winter. It certainly isn’t a beautiful vacation spent lounging around and relaxing! You sit inside all day long, the baby hopefully sleeping so you can nap, trying to figure out the whole mom thing. As the days drew near for me to return to work I felt myself really excited to get out of the house and see my work family again.
Sure, I was petrified to leave my son. Would he miss me or think I forgot about him? Would he cry all day long or refuse the bottle from my mother in law? How would I function at work when the baby was still waking up 5 times per night?! But then, my mom let me in on a little tip. At 3 months babies are just too small to comprehend that you’re gone. Sure, they may realize it’s a different caretaker but all babies truthfully need is love, cuddling, food, and warmth. That little tip assured me that L would be fine, and so would I.
The first few weeks, or maybe even months, went by in a blur. Trying to figure out our new schedule was crazy. Getting out of the house on time was a struggle and eating healthy meals was nearly impossible. Takeout, frozen pizza, and rotisserie chickens were a staple on our weekly menus. My husband and I passed by eachother like zombies but we made it work and found ourselves falling into a routine.
I adjusted to being at work and our son adjusted to being at my mother-in-law’s. I enjoyed the time away from him to breathe. Truthfully at the end of a hard weekend I looked forward to work. Especially as he’s gotten older and the tantrums are coming non stop and he is always on the go it is SO nice to have a break!
I relish in the time outside the house and the quiet moments to and from work. Reconnecting with my coworkers and patients, learning what they were up to and how their families are. And loving the freedom to grab a coffee on my way to work without hauling around a car seat or 20 pound baby!
Sure, I have my days when I miss him like crazy. When I worry about my son if he’s sick or having a bad day. But I know I am a better mom for my time away from him. For my time to myself to think and be a person, friend, wife, and daughter instead of just mom. It helps me enjoy our days together and strive to be present physically and emotionally.
An old boss of mine once said to me that she’s a woman first, then a wife, then a mom. She of course loves her kids but also loves herself. It really hit home with me how important it is to maintain your identity once you become a mom. It is so easy to lose yourself to the long nights, endless spit up, piles of laundry, and baby talk.
Again, no matter what you do for yourself and your family know that you’re doing the right thing. I know we are incredibly fortunate to have L with family rather then a daycare setting and that leaving your child may not go as smoothly depending on your situation but I’m hopeful that by sharing my experiences and how positive it’s been it may help you as you transition back to work.
Tell me, do you stay home with your kids or do you work? Do you enjoy being a working mom if you do?